As a result of changes made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which will exempt physicians already present in Canada as temporary residents from certain existing requirements involved in acquiring permanent residency through Express Entry programs, Canada continues to experience a nationwide shortage of competent physicians.
Most significantly, physicians who are currently employed in Canada frequently realize that they are ineligible for Express Entry because Canadian physicians adopt a “fee-for-service” payment model that differs from the conventional employer-employee relationship. On paper, this implies that many physicians who are currently temporary residents of Canada are regarded as self-employed.
Self-employed people who acquire this experience in Canada are ineligible for the majority of economic immigration pathways, including those provided by Express Entry. It is crucial to understand that being self-employed alone does not automatically disqualify a candidate. An applicant may still be qualified for an Express Entry program if they have at least one year of work experience in Canada or overseas.
The removal of this barrier, according to Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser, will send a message to physicians that they are invited to reside in Canada. Last week, when he was in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, he gave the new initiative a positive review.
“In my home province in particular, foreign-born physicians have been helping to keep families healthy and to take care of our aging population,’ said Fraser. “Their skills are critical resources in our community, and it does not take long before they become our neighbours, friends, and fellow community leaders. Physicians resettling here in Nova Scotia or in other parts across the country is a win-win situation. The measures announced today signal to these physicians that we want them to stay, by making it easier for them to choose Canada as their permanent home.”
The measure represents IRCC’s latest attempt to attract and keep physicians and other healthcare professionals. As of June 2022, approximately 4,300 permanent residents had been admitted under the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence pathway’s healthcare streams.
Shortage of healthcare professionals across the country
The healthcare industry in Canada presently has a job vacancy rate of close to 6%. Accordingly, there will be a nationwide shortage of more than 136,000 healthcare professionals in the second quarter of 2022. At 6.7%, Manitoba has the highest vacancy rate.
According to IRCC data, immigrants make up one in four of Canada’s healthcare professionals. This comprises 36% of physicians. The same data shows that there are close to 500,000 workers in the healthcare industry who are over 55 and will reach retirement age, which is 65, in the next ten years. Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan is aiming for the highest ever numbers of new permanent residents among all business lines to address this shortage and shortages in all sectors. The majority of newcomers will be from economic class programs.
Over 8,600 applications for temporary and permanent residents from foreign nationals wishing to work in the health sector have already been accepted by IRCC in 2022.
Upcoming changes to Express Entry
The exclusion for physicians marks the beginning of modifications to Express Entry that can last through 2023. Bill C-19, which was given royal assent in Parliament last June, will give IRCC more power to target Express Entry candidates who have particular work experience, educational credentials , or linguistic skills rather than issuing invitations to apply to a wider range of applicants solely based on their CRS scores, as is the tradition.
In a June interview with CIC News, Fraser stated that instead of flooding already healthy labour markets with new applicants, the new authorities will permit Canada to invite aspirants who are already well-positioned for success on the job market and therefore will be able to contribute positively to Canada’s economy.
“If you’re in a circumstance where you have an abundance of applications that are all in one particular sector, and that sector doesn’t have high needs in Canada the Express Entry system as it exists today, is likely to bring in people that might not be perfectly matched to the needs of the Canadian economy,” said Fraser.
Express Entry is an application management system that ranks candidate profiles for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Canadian Experience Class using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest-scoring applicants are given an Invitation to Apply (ITA), after which they can submit a permanent residency application. For new Express Entry applications, IRCC has a six-month processing norm.
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